Four is the number of children. Not the perfect number (unless that’s what you have, of course), not the number to aim for, not the number because it’s “even.” Four is the number when people start counting your kids when you go in public. I always wonder if those people think they are being subtle because I can almost see them moving their finger from head to head as their mouths drop open. And then they ask, “And that baby is a boy too, isn’t he??”
Yup. Four. All boys. Yes, they are all mine. No, you don’t need to feel sorry for me.
Of course, there’s a certain amount of crazy you sign up for when you have four small kids. It can be crazy when four small children all need something at the same time and you’d be surprised how often they all need something at the same time.
It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed. It’s easy for me to feel like there are always 6,000 emergencies and 99 loads of laundry to fold and 16 hungry children who want another snack. There are other responsibilities in my life as well. Lately I’ve been fighting the overwhelm and started praying about how this life was supposed to work.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Kill the pity party.
Everyone has crazy. Maybe they don’t have four small kids crazy. Maybe they have a full-time job and an aging parent crazy. Maybe they have two small kids and a home business crazy. But whatever it is, they have crazy. And they have problems. Maybe those problems aren’t noted on their Facebook profile but write it down, they have problems.
The kids are my crazy. But if it weren’t the kids, there would still be crazy. So I can’t throw myself this big pity party about how my kids are dragging me down. I can’t write the narrative that makes my boys the bad guys in the story.
“Get to” not “have to.”
God can use anyone. God can do anything that I’m doing with someone else. But I GET to be the person. I don’t HAVE to do any of this; I get to do it. I get to be the person who soothes my baby in the middle of the night. I get to be the person who teaches my boys to not hit each other because we are all made in the image of God. I get to be the woman who loves and cheers on my husband. I get to be the woman who __________ fill in that blank with anything I do.
God didn’t give me this life as a burden (even though there are hard, hard things). I GET to participate in God’s plan. When I start the next activity, I often stop and thank God that I am the woman that gets to do that thing.
It’s all worship.
A friend and I recently memorized Romans 12 (yup- we finished the whole thing!) and the end of verse one says that these things are “spiritual worship.” Giving it all to God is our worship. Worship isn’t singing at church or praying in the quiet of the night or sitting at Dgroup, although those are all wonderful things. Worship is how I do this work with my hands that God has given me.
When I realize that I am worshipping God with everything I do, it changes my tone. If I’m worshipping God with my mothering, it’s hard to have a bad attitude. It is ALL worship.
Ask God to honor the effort.
One day last week my husband facetimed with me on his way to class and quiet time was nuts. I told him that I was trying to do the work and I was just asking God to honor the effort. He gave me these children who were needing to use the bathroom and crying and wanting to eat and He also gave me this writing/coaching/other stuff to do. It’s not my job to make the perfect space for anything. It’s my job to show up and make the effort. Then it’s up to God to do with it what He wants.
If the circumstances were perfect, I could exalt myself. But when it’s nuts and I’m piecing together five minutes to write and then helping a kid in the bathroom, or when the baby is crying in one ear and the toddler needs a diaper and I’m trying to do school and somehow something good comes out of that, that’s all God. I can’t take credit for that.
I don’t have any method to smooth out my crazy. I don’t have formulas for perfectly-behaved kids or bigger chunks of uninterrupted time to work. But I’m learning to thrive in my crazy and I think you can too.